Recently I’ve been challenged about what it means to a follower of Jesus in my everyday life. This isn’t really so much about what I believe but how my beliefs impact me. It’s easy for us as followers of Jesus to go to church each week. We can be inspired to pray more and invite people along. We feel good when we do these things but are these things really that good? The Pharisee’s pray with intensity but Jesus condemned them. White-washed tombs was what he called them. The outside may look good but inside they were full of death. I don’t want to be like a tomb. I’m trading tomb-life for Jesus following not as a matter of religious practice but something that affects my everyday life. The way I see it:
I had a conversation about how the world began a couple of years ago with an unbelieving friend. I was quick to defend my belief that God created everything. Theologically I was good. I showed him the different positions on creation that Christians hold and why. I was able to defend my own view Biblically and I posed questions about his view on evolution that made him think. I helped expose him to a wider understanding to what Christians believe then he knew existed.
It sounds like I did a pretty good job but in truth I didn’t. My argument was born from hostility. I didn’t show love. Over the following days I felt God whispering questions like “How did that encounter show Jesus? Was he present? Is this what he is like?” I’ve since resolved to try to be more like him. I’m willing not to ‘win’ an argument at the expense of showing the love, grace and compassion that marked Jesus’ ministry.
2 Metaphors for Following Jesus
I’m not perfect but I hold onto hope because Jesus offered the perfect picture of what the Jesus-life looks like. In a conversation Jesus had with a Jewish rabbi, he likened following him with birth. This is the language of conversion. It is recognising and accepting God and coming to him through Jesus. The second great metaphor of the New Testament is of growth. Following Jesus is not stagnant but moving. The birth-growth metaphor is a beautiful picture of following Jesus. Growth cannot happen without birth, and birth without growth is not life. Modern Christianity tends to place a greater emphasis on the birth metaphor and distorted growth to aspects of church growth. Thankfully there are significant movements now starting to highlight discipleship and spiritual growth.
So what has it meant for me to follow Jesus in everyday life? Well, I have a greater awareness of God’s presence with me. I’m beginning to see people and pray “God, let me see the potential of this person that you see.” I tend to be a fairly judgmental person but I’m learning to let go of this. Instead I am starting to think about the compassion Jesus showed to people like this. I’m struck by the fact that Jesus was known as a ‘friend of sinners’. I’m looking for friendships and when I share my faith it is in this context. This helps me to value others as people, not just nameless converts. I wish this were easy and didn’t cost anything, but it does. I’ve found that following Jesus means I need to hold lightly to my own agenda in favour for his.
And finally I’ve learnt that following Jesus is something we do together. I invite you to share your journey with others. Tell your stories about what God is up to in your life, your struggles and your joys. You don’t have to do it on your own.